airport amenities

2 airports are finalists for America’s Best Restroom

The list of the top 10 finalists for the 2022 America’s Best Restroom contest is out.

And this year restrooms at two airports are in the running to be crowned as the best throne in the country.

Newark Liberty Int’l Airport (EWR)

The Terminal B all-gender restroom at Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) is one of the airport restrooms nominated as an excellent example of how businesses develop and maintain innovative restroom facilities.

EWR’s new loo is in a 1970’s-era terminal departure lounge. The loo’s creative, gender-neutral design offers “potty parity” and means that more users can be accommodated than with a traditional restroom design.

The restroom includes areas for traveling companions to wait and for passengers to reorganize their belongings. Local imagery on the glass and tile establishes a sense of place. And sound and scent help create a calming environment.

Tampa International Airport (TPA)

The nominated restrooms at Tampa International Airport (TPA) are on Airside C.

These loos welcome travelers to a uniquely Florida experience with large graphics. A natural, deep blue stone with undulating veining is intended to be reminiscent of waves crashing along the shore.

“Once inside, large format tiles skin the floors and seamlessly fold up the walls, bolstering the well-lit environment and furthering a ‘freshly cleaned’ aesthetic,” the restroom nomination explains. “A wood-look wall tile adds warmth and softness for a balanced, resort-like feel.”

The vanities in these restrooms also offer TPA’s signature “cockpit” concept, which gives each guest their own sensor-activating sink and soap, personal paper towel dispensers, and a nearby trash receptacle.

The other nominated public bathrooms on this Best Restroom list include the self-cleaning restrooms at North Hollywood Recreation Center; prohibition-themed restrooms in Stone Mountain, GA; and a Japanese pub in Orlando, FL modeled after the green restroom seen in “The Aviator” film.

Here’s the image from the movie:

Here’s a snap from Orlando’s Tori Tori pub.

The public is invited to vote for their favorite finalist through August 31 here.

Which is your favorite?

Roller skating is back at JFK’s TWA Hotel

Fans of roller skating, fun at-the-airport activities, and the landmark TWA Hotel at JFK Airport (i.e.: everyone) will be looking forward to the return of the hotel’s retro-style roller skating rink.

The Roll-A-Rama at the Runway Rink opens for the season on April 15.

The checkered rink is located by the hotel’s 1958 Lockheed Constellation “Connie” airplane/cocktail lounge and is made up of 2,668 tiles.

The rink will open to the public on weekends only, weather permitting, through November 22.

Hours for skating will be Fridays from 4 to 8 PM and Saturdays and Sundays from 12 to 8 PM.

50-minute skate sessions will cost $20 for adults and $16 for kids under 12. The fee includes use of a pair of old-style four-wheeled “quad skates” (patented in 1863).

If you have your own roller skates, you are welcome to bring them along.

If you’re planning to go, note that admission to the rink can only be purchased by credit card and is first-come, first-served; no advance tickets are available.

And because that’s the way they roll, the TWA Hotel team shared some great roller skating factoids. Note that you can burn 350 calories in an hour of roller skating, so go ahead and have a retro cocktail in the Connie.

“The Phoenix” at PHX Airport & What We Learned About Lost Amenities

Few airport rental car centers are places you want to hang out in for longer than you have to.

But the rental car center at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport is an exception.

The big, bright, open lobby has a cafe in the center with comfortable chairs and there’s artwork from the collection of the Phoenix Airport Museum all over the facility, including down the hallways that lead to the restrooms.

Here’s a link to a guided tour of the art on display at the PHX rental car center that’s yet to be updated with the newest and biggest installation: a three-panel mural by Paul Coze titled “The Phoenix” that is 75 feet wide and 16 feet high.

The mural was installed in PHX Terminal 2 back in the early 1960s. But when Terminal 2 was demolished, the mural was moved here. You can learn more about the artist, the images in the mural, and the heroic effort it took to safely remove the mural from Terminal 2 and reinstall it at the rental car center here and in our article for The Points Guy here.

But we want to take a few moments to talk about – and mourn – the amenities that were once in PHX Terminal 2.

What Once Was at PHX Terminal 2

When Terminal 2 opened at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport in the 1960s it was one of the most modern airport terminals in the country.

PHX shared a list of the amenities at the new, modern, terminal.

In addition to a long concourse with 10 gates and an indoor (indoor!) baggage carousel, the terminal had a hotel reservation kiosk with individual phones connected directly to each hotel’s reservation desk.

Other amenities included a game room with pinball machines, a rooftop observation deck, shops, a bank, a barbershop, a flower cart, a cocktail lounge, a restaurant with a glass-enclosed terrace, and, up above, The Phoenix mural by Paul Coze.

All those terminal features were certainly swanky for the time. But what really caught our attention was the nursery where passengers and airport visitors could leave their kids while they enjoyed all the amenities in the terminal.

Over the years, many (OK, most) of those amenities were set aside.

And over time the terminal was remodeled in such a way that “The Phoenix” mural was no longer easy to see or fully appreciate.

According to Gary Martelli, Phoenix Airport Museum manager & curator, during the first remodel, in the 1980s, parts of the mural became obscured when the terminal ceiling was lowered, and the columns were rounded. In the 1990s, a new restaurant was built with a vent hood in front of the mural. Then, in the early 2000s, security enhancements created a long wall bisecting the Terminal 2 lobby and further obscuring views of the mural.

Now, in its new home in the southwest corner of the central escalator lobby in the PHX Rental Car Center, “The Phoenix” is easy to see and impossible to miss. Nearby are exhibit cases with information about Terminal 2 and artist Paul Coze, along with photos from the initial installation of the mural. As a nice touch, there are also viewing telescopes (at two heights) to allow visitors to take a closer look at the details and embellishments in the mural.

FWA: 5 Things We Love About Fort Wayne Int’l Airport

5 Things We Love About Fort Wayne International Airport (FWA)

We’re back with another episode in our “5 Things We Love About…” series highlighting features and amenities at airports about the country and the world.

Today we land at Fort Wayne International Airport (FWA) in Indiana.

1. Free cookies at FWA

Without a doubt, Fort Wayne International Airport has one of the best airport amenities we’ve encountered: free cookies for all arriving passengers.

On our first visit to FWA, a seatmate told us that we’d get a cookie on arrival. We thought they were making a joke. But it turned out they were not kidding at all.

The cookies are baked at Ellison Bakery, just across the street from the airport. And FWA has been handing out these delightful welcome snacks for more than 20 years.

The cookies are clearly a hit: in June 2020 the airport handed out its “3 Millionth Cookie” and debuted a new style of cookie. Now, instead of one cookie, every arriving passenger at Fort Wayne International Airport is welcomed with a package that’s filled with several miniature cookies. The flavors include Birthday Cake and Chocolate Chip and several other varieties are rotated in.

2. Local brands at FWA

FWA puts an emphasis on local brands in the airport. Chapman’s Brewing Company out of Angola, Indiana serves a touch of Northeast Indiana with locally brewed beer on tap. And Conjure Coffee brings a sampling of Fort Wayne’s local coffee scene to FWA.

3. Customer service at FWA

We told you about the cookies that the Hospitality Hosts hand out to passengers at FWA. In any airport, that would check the box for customer service.

But FWA doesn’t stop there. The airport’s Customer Service Agents (CSAs) also provide complimentary curbside luggage service, wheelchair assistance, a parking lot shuttle, and other services.

4. Hospitality PAWS

Hospitality PAWS is FWA’s certified therapy dog program.

All the pups are highly trained and certified through the Alliance of Therapy Dogs and show up with their trainers at select times during the week.

5. More to come at FWA

Project Gateway is FWA’s expansion and improvement project. On the agenda: the Parking Lot Rehabilitation Project, East and West Terminal Apron Improvement Project, and the FWA West Terminal Building Expansion. That last piece will add additional gates, a new Mother’s Room, an upgraded Children’s Play Area, and expanded ticketing area, a modernized exterior façade, and more.   

Did we miss your favorite feature of Fort Wayne International Airport? Let us know in the comments section below. And feel free to nominate the next airport to be featured in the “5 Things We Love About…” series.

A moment with Minute Suites

Many airport services and amenities are not back at full power yet. And some may never be. And we have been wondering what’s up with Minute Suites, the company that rents out private rooms in some airports where travelers can sleep, rest, or get some work done during layovers.

The suites include a daybed sofa that turns into a bed, sound masking, a thermostat, a workstation, Wi-Fi, Netflix, and DIRECTV. Travelers can book a suite on the app or in person. And travel essentials are sold at the front desk.

The company did shut down temporarily during spring/early summer 2020. But it has now reopened in all its previous airport locations, including Atlanta, Charlotte Douglas, Dallas-Fort Worth, LaGuardia, and Philadelphia. Since October 2020, the company has even added new locations in the Baltimore and Nashville airports. And they have also signed ten more leases for additional airport locations.

“We were fortunate that American Airlines chose to consolidate much of their traffic through DFW and Charlotte and we re-opened our facilities there during the summer,” said Minute Suites co-founder and director of development Daniel Solomon. “Travelers valued our service for natural social distancing and as a safe place to relax and unmask.”

Are the suites santized?

Cleaning the rooms between guests was important before the pandemic, of course, but now the sanitation protocols are, of course, even more important. “[We] have employed a medical-grade cleaning protocol after each guest for over a decade,” says Solomon, “It features a disinfectant agent that is EPA-certified to kill COVID-19.” (More about the cleaning systems here.)

Now that more people are traveling, Minute Suites is reporting healthy recovery numbers in part because passengers are realizing that inside the suites is one of the few places in the airport where they can safely take off their masks, eat a take-out meal, work, rest, or nap.

What is the cost?

Minute Suites rent for $45 for the first hour (the minimum). After that, rates are charged in 15-minute increments. Right now, though, you are likely to be offered a 25% discount. As a nice gesture, Minute Suites has always offered nursing and pumping mothers a 30-minute free stay.

Travelers who have Priority Pass memberships (or credit cards with that beneift) get the first hour at Minute Suites sites free and a discounted per hour rate after that. A Minute Suites spokesperson says they are seeing a lot of Priority Pass usage right now.